Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.
Any subject. Any type of essay.
We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.
121 writers online
At the end of the 19th century the historian Frederick Jackson Turner answered that question with what was to become the definition of American character. Critics found his ideas too simplistic. However, in hindsight the reality showed that the frontier was not a line drawn on a map, but a representation of the human quest for happiness and success. With that idea in mind America keeps shaping the world through good and bad times distinguishing itself as the example.
Frederick Jackson Turner was one of the first historians professionally trained in the United States rather than Europe. He grew up in Portage, Wisconsin. This was near the route crossed by frontiersmen and missionaries whose journey began in St Lawrence Valley and ended in the Mississippi Valley. Being a witness to this migration westward was much later one of the key factors in articulating the idea of the frontier. He chose to present ’’The significance of the frontier in American history’’ at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1983 which marked the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World in 1492.(White, Limerick 7) It is still thought-provoking how Turner pointed to expansion as the most important factor in American history. He claimed that ‘’the existence of an area of free land and the advance of American settlement westward explained American development.’’(Klein 14) It had been argued that all significant American institutions derived from German and English roots. Turner’s vision was that whoever crossed the frontier was a new product, an American one, a man reinvented by a purpose.
He claimed that Europeans had been transformed by the process of settling the American continent and what was unique about the United States was its frontier history. He traced the social evolution of frontier life as it continually developed across the continent from the primitive conditions experienced by the explorer, the trader, through maturing agricultural stages, finally reaching the complexity of city and factory. Turner held that the American character was decisively shaped by conditions on the frontier. For example, the abundance of free land and the settling triggered such traits as self-reliance, individualism, inventiveness, restless energy, mobility, materialism, and optimism. Every generation that moved further west became more American, more democratic and more individualistic. Also, the advance of the frontier meant independence from England and gave wings to trade. From a geographical perspective, Turner shows that characters and institutions were influenced by the western frontier thus fighting against sectionalism. Especially the Middle region, which acted like a mediator between the East, South and West, tried to give an example and lead a ‘’tolerant, contented life, rooted strongly in material prosperity’’. (Horwitz 91)
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:
Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. If you’d like this or any other sample, we’ll happily email it to you.
Attention! this essay is not unique. You can get 100% plagiarism FREE essay in 30sec
Sorry, we cannot unicalize this essay. You can order Unique paper and our professionals Rewrite it for you
Your essay sample has been sent.
Want us to write one just for you? We can custom edit this essay into an original, 100% plagiarism free essay.Order now
Are you interested in getting a customized paper?Check it out!